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After a tumultuous process, the University of South Carolina board elected former West Point Superintendent, Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen, to be the next president of the university with a vote of 11-8.
The meeting, which was originally scheduled for Friday, July 19, but was blocked by Richland County Circuit Court Judge Robin Hood who issued a temporary injunction on Thursday afternoon. The injunction prevented the board from meeting and casting a vote on Lt. Gen. Caslen until this week due to state law requiring the USC’s Board of Trustees to receive a written and mailed notice five days before a meeting. In this case, notices for the July 19 meeting had not been sent out until Tuesday, July 16.
After three finalists were announced in April, Lt. Gen. Caslen being one of them, students began to protest. Many students and faculty took issue with Lt. Gen. Caslen’s involvement in the Iraq War and his support for the Contras in Nicaragua.
During this time the board decided to reopen their search while remaining adamant that the protests did not play a role in this decision. In the meantime, the school named USC Upstate Chancellor Brenan Kelly as interim president costing the school $137,000.
A supporter of Lt. Gen. Caslen, Governor Henry McMaster urged for a vote leading to an intense backlash from students, faculty and donors participating in large protests. Despite the backlash, Lt. Gen. Caslen’s supporters showed admiration for his 43 years in the Army and the high position he held at West Point during his tenure.